Friday, May 18, 2007

The Opposite of Contentedness

"Should we accept only good things the hand of God and never anything bad?"

How alien (to the way we think) are these words from Job - right at the lowest point in his life!

Humans regularly experience peaks and troughs in life. My observation is that some of us even behave in the following way: chasing highs and embracing hype – then dipping or crashing into periods of emotional listlessness or complaint or lethargy or anger or anxiety.

In short, we want life and (because of the marketing we've believed) expect life to be lived on the mountaintop, expending massive emotional physical temporal financial resources in that pursuit.

In natural systems (e.g. tides, weather, the rhythm of our bodies) and human systems (e.g. economies, fashion, popularity, sporting competitions), there are always peaks and troughs, highs and lows, booms and busts. Usually the greater the high, the greater the low when the 'bubble bursts' – though this is not always true since higher rainfall is not necessarily followed by drought.

Humans are at least preoccupied with the peak and shun the trough to the point of sometimes labelling the latter unfair. So the sensations of

  • winning,
  • a full stomach,
  • orgasm,
  • chemical high,
  • a huge cash payout,
  • an experience of God’s glory or power,
  • the first episode of a favourite TV show’s new season,
  • purchasing a new item,
  • receiving a gift,
  • having life 'run smoothly' for a while

– these all represent the mountain top –and truthfully we want life to be comprised of nothing else but these kinds of highs.

I have to keep reminding myelf that this desire is unreasonable, since it is in denial of several facts:

  1. The universe that God designed is cyclical by nature (e.g. the body cannot exercise all day but needs recuperation; it cannot rain all year nor be sunny all year without severe damage to the environment and its inhabitants)
  2. The effects of sin on earth are such that they have destroyed equilibrium (e.g. our greed has adversely affected weather patterns and the quality of our food; the rich continue to get richer at the expense of the poor)
  3. The Bible reveals that God is far more interested in our character than our comfort and avoids ‘spoiling’ in favor of disciplining/shaping us.

This longing for continual highs also touches on another issue: our tendency to expect more and more and more …

Give me a job at $60,000 a year and today I will rejoice in my blessing … but this time next year I will be complaining that 60K is just not enough!

Give me sex every day and I will soon be bored with what last week was like being in heaven (although I'd be happy to test that and see if it's true...)

Give me the presence of God at my beck and call, and I will soon become complacent arrogant and overindulged - I will devalue even Him…

12 comments:

themolk said...

Totally valid, Pete... all too often (especially in christendom) we seek to live at the top of the mountain, forgetting that we had to climb up there in the first place, and that is the largest part of what makes being on top so great.

"The hype" is about 'now', it's about 'God will bless you', it's about 'everything will be great in your life, and if not, you're doing something against God'...

The reality is just as you state... life/nature/faith is a full circle adventure encompassing the dizzying highs, the depressing lows, and the sweet, creamy middles. Without the dark/hard times, we miss a lot of the true joy of the mountain top. And we'd become complacent with the top of the mountain, and be looking for a taller/bigger one to be on top of not too long afterwards.

Mind you, I too would like to trial this "all the sex you can have" thing and advise if indeed I'd get sick of it. Not with you, of course, though... ;)

Pete Aldin said...

Glad you qualified that last remark Mr Molks! Man!

Apart from that, :) I'd like to say "A very nice sum-up, dude!"

Markk said...

Too true. In fact, you have just inspired me to write a long post of my own, that may or may not appear at my blog.

Congrats on the new blog. I guess two blogs just wasn't enough, eh?

Pete Aldin said...

You can never have enough blogs! ... Well ...

themolk said...

I was gonna take you to task about that, brother Pete... 3 blogs? Aren't we being just a little bit greedy... ;)

Pete Aldin said...

I seem to remember a directive from God... Something about "Be fruitful and multiply"...

Of course, I could be taking that out of context. :)

themolk said...

context, schmontext...

wuqsnnj - ancient disease that died out after wiping out the dinosaurs.

markk said...

Now you've done it - you made me start another blog too!

http://thesecondday.wordpress.com

Pete Aldin said...

Good one MArkk. Soon I'll get a blogroll happening and YOUR blgo will be on it!

Pete Aldin said...

I mean "blog"!

themolk said...

I don't have time to write two blogs... :( I feel like an internet leper...

Pete Aldin said...

Actually, Markk and I don't either.Let's just see if we can keep the quality up! You'll probably notice I've only posted at Great Circle (my MAIN site) twice in the last 6 weeks!

And what did we start off talking about on this post? How did we get here!